Interview with Andrea Tomatis

Andrea Tomatis was a beachvolleyball player between 2002 and 2014 before he started coaching. Andrea worked with the male Czech Beachvolleyball Team (Perusic/Schweiner among others) but also coached womens team Kvapilova/Kolocova . So in this interview IBVCA asekd him about similarities and differences in coaching men and women.

Short question – short answer: Is it 2 different games or are the styles so similar that you would call it the same game?

Same game with some difference!

In which parts of the game are they the most similar?

Passing and setting are the most similar parts

In which parts of the game are they the most different (name them only – don’t explain)?

Blocking, attacking and ball control especially in out of the system or weird situation

What – now in detail – are for you the biggest differences?

Due the physical gap men blocking style is more various, they can fake in different ways and this makes the block-defense system more creative.

Women need to block more with the feet and faking a little less to be effective, of course now also women are getting taller and taller but the gap is still visible.

Attack is even clearer: boys can play sharp angles and really hard driven balls that women cannot.

Another clear difference is ball control and this is related to different childhood in my opinion, boys play more with the ball than girls between 3 and 6 years of age and this makes a big difference in the quality of their coordination skills when they become adults.

Last part it’s the recovery time. Women need more rest during the season than men, and they get mentally tired before boys.

In terms of training technique (meaning: movement /motor execution: what exact movements should the body of the player do): are there elements or skills which differ between men and women? Do you teach different movement/technique to a boy/man than to a girl/woman??

As I said the coordination skills are different, so girls need more out of the system exercise and they need to handle weird situation, also a bit more of ball control exercise.

Blocking exercises are also different due to the physical gap (more fakes for boys).

The differences in the physical part of the game are obvious: what about the mental aspect – mindset, psychology: do you see differences there?

This is the biggest difference I would say, with boys you have to be really clear on the risk management point of view as they tend to do what they want, with girls it’s vice-versa, you have to be really clear that they can do sometimes what they want and they don’t need a guide every time.

From the correction point of view during the practice you can be more direct with boys going straight to the point as they don’t take thing personally, with girls you need to be more careful and always need to find something positive before a correction or even better you can wrap the corrections between two positive things. Also, girls are more in trouble with the mistake as they take it as a failure and not as a process to get a better player.

Looking back at the evolution of the game in the last 10 or 20 years: Have the styles of men and women game become more similar, more different or stay the same different/similar? Explain in detail!

They are getting similar, now we have some girls spike serving, mostly of them they hand set and they are getting taller and taller which helps them to be more effective attacking and to shorten the rallys .

Do you believe that generally the women’s game is developing according to the men’s game, always with same years of delay? Or is the development more unique, depending on the specific characteristics (male and female physiology/strength/speed, and maybe also net height etc)?

Both games are developing a lot, girls are a bit delayed due to the physical gap, but playing style are getting closer. From the mental point of view to me there will be always a big gap that makes coaching style for women and men really different.

 Looking in the future: how will the men’s game and the women’s game develop? Will they become more similar?

The game especially in the last years is changing a lot, now there’s a lot of men teams playing fakes, spiking  a huge amount of balls on 2, jump setting and making the game more creative in general. I think that women can go in the same direction, especially if they work a lot on their ball control and if they feel free to make some more mistakes during practices to get more skilled and to add something new to their game.

(Picture copyright by beachvolleytour.it)